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Vladimir Sobotka spurns Blues for Omsk in KHL


yave1964

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  Restricted Free agent Vladimir Sobotka of the St. Louis Blues shocked the club by turning down arbitration and chose to sign a three year deal with the KHL at 4 million a year.

  Sobotka is coming off a career year offensively with 33 points and 72 PIMs in 61 games. Long one of the top defensive forwards in the game, the Blues responded by immediately resigning Steve Ott who had been an unrestricted free agent.

 

Blues GM Doug Armstrong expressed shock over the defection. He had been in negotiation with arguably the leagues top penalty killer on an extention of anywhere from 3 to 5 years at 3 million a year. Sobotka instead signed with Omsk with the Blues retaining his rights. It is a three year deal with Sobotka having an opt out clause at the end of every season.

 

  This is a concern for the NHL. Restricted free agents have long been at the mercy of the parent club as other clubs simply do not step in and make offer sheets. A concern has been that with the KHL growing as a league that more RFA's will sign a multiyear deal in the KHL with a yearly 'opt out' clause if the NHl team in question steps up and makes a solid offer luring said player back. I have been keeping an eye on Ryan O'Reilly of Colorado, he comes across as a stubborn cuss and I thought he might take this route. He still might. I guarantee other potential UFA's are watching the Sobotka case, if the Blues lure him back next season for more than they had been willing to offer this year on a multi year deal, look for other players to do the same.

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This is a bit of a surprise, given that the Blues seemed still poised to contend for a Cup.

 

I guess if you look at the big picture for Sabotka, if this is really about money, if he'd rather take more to play in the KHL, then he never really  had a Stanley Cup in mind while he was playing with St. Louis.

Under that scenario, if you are a Blues fan, then say "good riddance...now get me some guys who want their name on that Cup and will do anything to get there"

I am not about to anoint the Blues the next SC Champs, but looking at the direction the team has been moving the last several seasons and what they still have on the team, one has to conclude they are still in the running for one.

 

So Sabotka didn't want a part of that?

I don't even know how good Omsk is. Are THEY in the running for a championship in the KHL? Or perhaps they can win the secondary losers bracket tournament the KHL has set up now? I certainly don't know...

 

But I know this: if this IS a ploy to get more money out of NHL owners and GM's, then it is up to those same owners and GM's not to fall for this sort of roundabout hostage situation so as not to open that can of worms with other players moving forward.

If the terms of what the Blues supposedly were negotiating with Sabotka are accurate, they seem rather fair....then it looks as if the player simply is trying to get himself a larger contract than a player of his status/production is worth.

 

Or maybe all this is because Sabotka really WOULD rather play in Europe, which for him would be closer to home, no?

 

Speaks to the growth of the KHL as a league.

In all honesty, I LIKE seeing Euro leagues continue to grow in popularity and talent.

 

Maybe it's the kind of kick in the arse the NHL needs for them to realize: "Hey, you aren't the ONLY place top talent will play in"

If losing players like a Sabotka, like a Kovelchuk, etc makes the NHL realize they need to run a tighter ship, or, I don't know, impeach the gnome Bettman, then I am all for it.

 

Complacency can be a real ugly thing.

And the NHL is in no way, shape or form, in any condition to sit back and think their turds smell like roses and that no player of high quality can refuse playing for them.

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@TropicalFruitGirl26

I blame a lot of this on the owners, who are capable of signing other teams free agents to offer sheets but choose to walk the fine line of collusion by not doing so and instead with a wink and a nod they refuse to do so. Hence players like Johansen who refuses to sign a bridge contract in Columbus and instead rightfully wants to run his deal out until he hits the UFA market.

  Sobotka has been a favorite of mine for years, I have posted that in here, his defensive skills as a forward, his 200 foot game, I love the guy. and feel that his ploy of using the KHL to get paid is well within his rights.

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@TropicalFruitGirl26

I blame a lot of this on the owners, who are capable of signing other teams free agents to offer sheets but choose to walk the fine line of collusion by not doing so and instead with a wink and a nod they refuse to do so. Hence players like Johansen who refuses to sign a bridge contract in Columbus and instead rightfully wants to run his deal out until he hits the UFA market.

  Sobotka has been a favorite of mine for years, I have posted that in here, his defensive skills as a forward, his 200 foot game, I love the guy. and feel that his ploy of using the KHL to get paid is well within his rights.

 

 

I suppose, yave.

 

But see, THIS is the sort of crap that will continue to keep the NHL in the 'stone ages' as compared to other leagues.

 

I mean, if what you mentioned is really what this Sabotka thing is coming down to, then it looks like a case of the NHL owners and having certain rules in place, but not really using them (being able to offer an RFA of another team a contract) due to some 'good ol boy' system....then, you have the player trying to circumvent that by using outside leverage (in this case, the KHL) in order to get what he originally wanted.

 

It's just a messed up way of doing business all the way around, and ultimately, the ones who suffer are us NHL fans because we get talented players being taken elsewhere where we can't see them play and then, later on, possible work stoppages and other side show nonsense due to the NHL having to 're-evaluate' its rules yet again.

 

In most other walks in life, the guy in charge takes the fall for the organization he is leading fouling up as much as the NHL has.

How does Bettman still have a job!?

 

Oh, wait...good ol boy system...got it..... 

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In most other walks in life, the guy in charge takes the fall for the organization he is leading fouling up as much as the NHL has.
How does Bettman still have a job!?

 

Foul ups aside, though, he has grown the game and, most importantly for his employers, revenues. It's up to the employers to determine whether or not these types of 'foul ups' or hiccups are systemic problems that can lead to long-term damage, or chalk it up to the cost of doing business. A very small number of players (what are we talking here - maybe a dozen over the past few years?) will be lost to another league. Kovalchuk was a pretty big name and marketable player, and has anyone - other than the Devils - even missed his presence? I suspect it will be the same with Sobotka.

 

Someone mentioned this a while back when we were having this same discussion on Kovy - perhaps this will be viewed through a different lens when a (high-profile) North American born player chooses the KHL over the NHL. Someone like Ryan O'Reilly.

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@TropicalFruitGirl26

 

From what I have read Doug Armstrong (Blues GM) offered varying terms but the money per year always around 3 million a year. Sobotka is never going to be a big scorer but he does everything else well. Guys like he and Boyd Gordon who seldom make the score sheet but win crucial defensive zone faceoffs, cover the other clubs top line and more often than not shut them down, are you telling me that no other club would love to have him? Nobody is willing to offer sheet him, so Armstrong, in my opinion lowballed Sobotka who signed a three year deal at 4 million a year and can opt out at the end of the upcoming season. If Armstrong low balls him again, he will stay another year. This is the only option available due to the good old boy system we have in place where nobody wants to sign other teams RFA's.

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@brelic

 

  Agreed, nobody noticed outside New Jersey when Kovie left, same with Sobotka in St. Louis,. but I have been watching Ryan O'Reilly for several years, since he took forever to come back from the lockout and there was talk of him missing the whole season to the KHL, which might have been hubris for a lot of guys but O'Reilly seemed to have meant it. I still think it is near 50/50 that he winds up overseas for next season.

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@yave1964  Sbotka was quite possibely the most underrated player in the league. What he did not bring offensively, he made up for in defense and tenacity. He was a BUGGER to play against. HUGE loss for one of the leagues better teams. You would think with the addition of Stasney, he would have been all in looking for the cup. One scenario....it may be been about playing time as much as money. Being the top line, top pp go to guy would mean the world to a guy like Sbotka. Sounds a lot more glamorous than the 4th line center role he would have been pushed down to due to the Stasney signing. Personally, I think he would have been the 3rd line center with Stasney, Oshie and Backes comprising the top line. They had great balance as we all know, but a legit top line with those 3 would have created some much needed creativity on offense. I think they roll with that line and get GREAT results! In this scenario, Backes moves from center to wing, a smart move if they choose to go that way.....AND adds considerable value to all 3 in fantasy hockey.

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